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New digital shopping rights boost for consumers

Improved rights for digital downloads and faulty products


Consumers are set to benefit from new shopping rights after the Consumer Rights Act received Royal Assent in Parliament yesterday. 

The new rules will mean extending consumer rights to digital content for the first time. 

This means anyone buying a digital product that turns out to be faulty could be entitled to a refund or replacement.

The Act will also introduce a range of new rights for consumers when it comes into force on 1 October 2015.

This includes a 30 day time period in which to get a refund for a faulty product.

The Consumer Rights Act is the biggest change to consumer legislation in a generation and will replace the Sale of Goods Act, among other pieces of consumer legislation. 

Stronger rights for consumers

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘The Consumer Rights Act brings consumer law into the 21st century, and it’s especially good to see the government extending consumer rights into digital content for the first time.

‘The Act is a firm foundation for empowering consumers and should make it easier for people to understand their rights and challenge bad practice.

‘It will help boost consumer confidence if businesses embrace the new rules and make sure that they treat their customers fairly.’

The Act is predicted to lift the economy by £4 billion over the next decade by streamlining complicated law from eight pieces of legislation into one place.

New digital download rights

The existing law on digital content is unclear and has failed to keep up with the demand for digital products.

The Consumer Rights Act gives consumers new rights to a repair, replacement and refund of faulty content such as online films, games, music downloads and e-books.

For example, you have been playing a free computer game on which – over a period of a few months – you’ve spent money on in-app purchases to improve your game character. 

After your last character upgrade, the game stopped working. Under the new rules you’ll be entitled to a repair or a replacement. 

If a repair isn’t provided within a reasonable time or is impossible to replace then you’d be entitled to some money back.

New rights on faulty goods and refunds

There will be clearer rights for consumers when dealing with faulty items. For example, you buy a toaster but after three weeks you find it no longer works. 

Currently under existing law it’s not clear whether you have a right to get a refund. This is because it’s not clear if three weeks is considered a ‘reasonable time’ in which to do so. 

Under the new law you will have a clear right to a full refund for up to 30 days after you buy your item. 

New rights on poor services

There will also be clearer rules for what should happen if a service isn’t provided with reasonable care and skill, or as agreed. 

For example, this could be a restaurant meal delivered lukewarm or painting and decorating that’s been completed in the wrong colour or to a poor standard. 

In these instances, you would have a right to ask for the service to be repeated or to get some money back. 

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